Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies
Company name plate on steam engine boiler
|Products||Ploughs, Traction engines, Threshing machines, Combine harvesters, Lawn mowers|
Ransomes, Sims and Jeffries (also Ransomes, Ransomes & Sims, Ransomes, Head & Jefferies, Ransomes, Sims & Head) was a major British agricultural machinery maker producing a wide range of products including traction engines, trolleybuses, ploughs, lawn mowers, combine harvesters and other tilling equipment. They also manufactured aeroplanes during the First World War. Their railway equipment business was continued by Ransomes & Rapier after 1869. The company was based in Ipswich, Suffolk.
The company also manufactured Direct Current electric motors in a wide range of sizes, and electric forklift trucks and tractors.
The company was founded, as Ransomes, in 1789 by Robert Ransome, an iron-founder in Norwich before moving to Ipswich where he started casting ploughshares in a disused malting at St Margaret's Ditches in Ipswich, with capital of £200 and one employee. As a result of a mishap in his foundry, a broken mould caused molten metal to come into contact with cold metal, making the metal surface extremely hard – chilled casting – which he advertised as 'self sharpening' ploughs, and received patents for his discovery.
In 1829 Robert Ransome's eldest son, James Allen Ransome became a partner in the firm. For several years from that date he resided at Yoxford, Suffolk, where a branch of the business was established. In 1839 he moved permanently to Ipswich, and under his direction the business assumed huge proportions.
Ransomes produced the 'Automaton' hand-powered lawn mower in 1867. Prior to 1869 the company changed its name to Ransomes, Sims & Head. In 1869 four engineers, J.A. Ransome, R.J. Ransome, R.C. Rapier and A.A. Bennett, left the company by agreement to establish 'Ransomes & Rapier', also based in Ipswich to continue the business of railway equipment and other heavy works.
In 1902 Ransomes produced the first commercially available powered lawn mower, driven by an internal combustion gasoline engine. In the First World War, they manufactured aeroplanes: 350 Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2 fighters. While the Director was responsible for the design of the modern trench mortar.
In the 1950s Ransomes started producing forklifts, Class 1 Lift Code 5 (Electric Sit Down Counterbalance). With the start of production of the A Series, Ransomes forklifts were sold by the Hyster dealership network under Hyster serial number codes (A21R, A22R, A23R - the R standing for Ransomes Ipswich plant). The codes still show in the Hyster serial number system.
Ransomes also started producing Class 2 Lift Code 3 (Electric Stand On Reach Straddle) machines. Later the company expanded to producing Class 6 Lift Code 1 (Electric Tow Tractors).
When Hyster Corporation bought Lewis Sheppard, the largest market for Ransomes forklifts disappeared. In the early 1980s Ransomes sold their forklift line to Hawkins Mechanical Handling, which produced machines under the Hamech Ransomes brand name. Hawkins Mechanical Handling was later purchased by Crown, and the Hamech name retired, until 2004, when Crown brought it back for use in an Internal Combustion Engined forklift line.
In 1989 the whole of the agricultural implement business was sold to Electrolux and merged with their subsidiary Överum.
This left Ransomes solely as a manufacturer of lawn mowers, with the Westwood and Mountfield mower brands. The company accepted a take-over offer from Textron Inc., USA, and their independent existence ended early in 1998.
Ransomes to this day still produce a variety of grass cutting equipment. From professional high quality turf machines to more industrial gang mowers for use on wider areas such as public parks etc. Yet they do still make a range of pedestrian mowers for use on manicured lawns and bowling greens for example.
Ransomes & Rapier
Ransomes & Rapier was formed in 1869 when four engineers, J.A. Ransome, R.J. Ransome, R.C. Rapier and A.A. Bennett, left the parent company by agreement to establish a new company on a site on the River Orwell to continue the business of railway equipment and other heavy works.
The company built the locomotives for the Woosung Road (or Woosung Railway) which was the first railway in China. The railway opened in 1876 but was demolished the following year. The firm also supplied railway turntables in the early to mid-1930s.
During the First World War they produced shells, guns and tank turrets.
Ransomes and Rapier built the model W1400 walking dragline called Sundew for The United Steel Company iron ore quarry at Exton Park, Rutland, England. At the time it was built in 1951, it was the largest in the world, weighing in at 1880 tons.
Ransomes and Rapier closed in 1987.
- "Good Ploughing" by E.J. Roworth, published by Ransomes Sims & Jefferies Ltd. 1973?
- Francis Goold Morony Stoney
- Sir Richard Rapier Stokes (1897–1957) – who became Chairman and Managing Director of Ransomes & Rapier.
- Kenneth J Goward. "The Ransomes Connection To Orwell Park Observatory".
- Lee, Sidney, ed. (1896). "Ransome, Robert". Dictionary of National Biography 47. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- "THE OLD LAWNMOWER CLUB".
- "Bibliography". Railways of China.
- "Going over Stoke". BBC.
- Colossal Earthmovers, by Keith Haddock, ISBN 0-7603-0771-7
- "My Home Town: Ipswich". Archived from the original on 2012-07-20.[dead link]
- Ransomes Sims & Jefferies: Agricultural Engineers - Brian Bell, Old Pond Publishing Ltd (2001), ISBN 1-903366-15-1
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